So I Was Watching Top Chef the Other Night and…

February 5, 2013

130130D_StephanChefLeft: Quick sketch of Chef Stefan Richter ("Top Chef") with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Calligraphy Pen and gouache washes on Richeson Recycled Watercolor Paper, 8.5 x 11 inches. (Name misspelled on the drawing.)

So the other night I was watching "Top Chef" and I decided I'd better get some sketching in before the end of the day. (Bouts of coughing had kept me from doing any sketching.) I stopped the action (which you can do with a DVR) and quickly sketched with the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Calligraphy Pen. Then I painted immediately right over those lines with various light washes of gouache. I used light washes because I didn't want to obscure the ink lines.

I was having a lot of fun glazing different colors onto other colors and mopping blue all over the place. I don't typically use Raw Sienna in my palette, but I had some put out before I was sick and it was still sitting there on my china plate.  

I like the roughness of the sketch. I went to scan it and then when I was cropping it I coughed and my fingers hit the wrong keys and I ended up inverting the image.

I thought it looked so fun inverted that I saved a copy to show you. I love the way the ink lines all become white. I thought about combining them in some way, but I started to cough again, so that ended my experiments.

130130D_StephanChefINVERTLeft: Inverted version of the opening sketch. In this version you can see the little note I made to myself about correcting the shape of his nose. It is emerging from the background on the left.

I've been working quite a bit on the Richeson Recycled Watercolor Paper lately and I have to say it's pretty tough. I don't scrub at it like I might scrub at Arches (which is so heavily sized it would take a Brillo pad to rub through it) but the sizing on this paper keeps performing even when I go back to add additional layers or to pick up and blot out.

I enjoy using Schmincke gouache in light washes like this because it has so much punch, and sometimes I just don't want to let go of my ink lines.

I was disappointed to see Stefan bumped from the show. I would have enjoyed more opportunities to sketch him.

  1. Reply

    What a great sketch. I don’t use Raw Sienna much either, I find it ‘doesn’t like other colours’ and seperates from them (or is it just me, lol).

  2. Reply

    Thanks Ann. I don’t think it’s “just you.” I think Raw Sienna is very different from brand to brand of watercolor/gouache paint (I don’t know how it is in oils). Sometimes it’s much more yellow, sometimes more brownish. Sometimes it seems very tacky to me (and I don’t mean cheap or garish, but sticky).

    I know a lot of landscape artists who use it a lot when mixing their greens. I’m going to play with it next week for a week and see what happens—I think I feel another Project Friday coming on.

    Glad you enjoyed the sketch.

    • Karen
    • February 5, 2013

    It would be fun to see the positive facial features applied over the inverted image.

  3. Reply

    Karen, that’s what I was thinking, some sort of blending thing. I can’t get over how much I love all that yellow on his chin in the inverted image. Since I’m still under the weather I have to resist the urge to just waste time inverting ALL my sketches now to see what they look like. At least I’m able to read again—I’m reading “Pox” which is an interesting book on the small pox outbreak at the turn of the 20th century. Very interesting.

  4. Reply

    Just started painting portraits. I am surprised how hard it is. My first step has to use biro, but reading this I may use a Calligraphy Pen and see how that goes. Many thanks for your tips

    • Roz Stendahl
    • April 20, 2015

    Sorry I missed this when you wrote TWO years ago, but I was looking for this image and saw your comment.

    My friend Marty Harris makes the most amazing sketches with ballpoint pens. (Which is what we call Biros in the US.)

    You can see some of Marty’s work here

    I hope you have kept up your work with Portraits and tried lots of different pens to see what works best for you.

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